What to Look for When Hiring a Realtor

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Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, a good realtor can make the experience a breeze. A bad one can turn things into a real estate nightmare. Learn what to look for, and what to avoid, when choosing who you trust your business with.


Consider Your Housing Needs and Niche

Buyers who are shopping for a townhouse should shop for an agent that specializes in smaller homes. Think about your size needs, and price range. Make sure the agent has experience in the area you’re most interested in. It only wastes time when you’re always shown homes $100K over your budget. 


Similarly, if you’re selling your mansion, you don’t want to put your home in the hands of an agent who sells condominiums. Make sure your agent understands the housing climate for your neighborhood. Even if you’re selling a smaller home, you want it appraised accurately. Set a price that’s too high, and you might not get any bites for months or years on end.

Pay Attention to Warning Signs

Realtors are paid in commission - a portion of the total cost from whatever sale they make. While paying commission is normal, be on the lookout for realtors who take an unusually high or low part of the sale. 


On average, realtors charge 5 to 7% commission. Anything much higher than that is taking a sizable chunk out of the sale price. The average real estate agent shouldn’t be charging above those figures. Outstanding, high-powered realtors might get away with it, but otherwise, it’s unusual to pay more than 7%.


It’s tempting to hire a realtor who charges below the average. You might come across an agent who only charges 3%, but beware. There’s likely a reason they’re working for lower rates. A common complaint is that the agent is only working part-time. They won’t be able to devote as much time to the sale of your house, and won’t be available as often.

Attend Open Houses

Even if you haven’t hired them yet, an open house is an excellent opportunity to see how the realtor interacts with potential home buyers. Make a realtor wishlist and see how they line up.


Something to look for is how knowledgeable the agent is. They should be familiar with the home and home buying process. Does the house have any known issues? How many bathrooms are there? What are the average property taxes in the area? These are all questions they should be willing and able to answer.


There’s a high level of trust involved when you hire a real estate agent. Your working relationship needs to be built on confidence. Even if the agent ticks all the boxes on paper, you have to feel comfortable with them as a whole. Do your research - there are ways to vet your realtor before you make your decision.

Be in Charge of Your Choice

Buying and selling a home are major life events. Navigating the process on your own if often unrealistic. Having someone handle something so important can be uncomfortable, but it can also make the process painless and enjoyable. Remember, the final decision is up to you.



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David Jackson, MBA

Financial lending analyst
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